Market research firm Synovate has some new insights into Chinese netizens usage of the web – how it differs between poorer and richer cities, that more people than ever in China go online on their mobiles, how e-commerce has exploded even in less prosperous cities, and that the internet has (for the first time) surpassed television in terms of engagement levels.
It’s a part of Synovate’s Media Atlas China study, which surveyed 66,000 consumers across 88 ‘tier one’ to ‘tier five’ cities and rural areas across mainland China. Before we get to the meat on the bones, we have to gnaw at the gristle of what exactly constitutes these levels of cities.
So here’s a quick primer on China’s cities:
In the West, November 11th isn’t much of a holiday, although it may soon be celebrated among gamers as the day that Skyrim was released. But in China, the day is a celebration of singledom, the anti-Valentine’s day, chosen because the date is 11/11. This year, Alibaba’s Tmall and some other online retailers have planned pretty significant sales for today, and it seems pretty clear that Chinese customers have taken notice.
We’ve heard from the folks at Alibaba that in just the first hour of the sale, Tmall has taken in 439,000,000 RMB (about $68 million). Moreover, this was the hour between 12:00 and 1:00 AM, meaning that it was only the nighthawks who were up late making their sale-priced purchases.
After talking about his Xiaomi phone a bit earlier, Lei Jun moved on to share more of his entrepreneurial story. Lei Jun revealed that he has invested in 20 companies so far and about 17 or 18 of them have received VC funding, to a sum total of US$1 billion USD.
TechCrunch moderator Sarah Lacy double checked to see if the figure was $100 million but Lei Jun confirmed he hadn’t misspoken and that the sum is $1 billion. (There’s often confusion between Chinese and English translation when it comes to numbers.)
The unique fashion e-commerce site Unitedstyles might not have won the TechCrunch Disrupt Beijing ‘Start-up Battlefield’ prize yesterday, but I found its fashion design and manufacturing service the most visually impressive and captivating of the six finalists (see who won here). And so I felt it’s worth an overview. As a bonus, it’s based in Shanghai, despite having overseas (Dutch) founders.
What makes Unitedstyles spectacular is that it allows users to design the entire outfit, preview it with 3D online modeling, share your designs socially, and then finally order the production of your own fashion creations. It’s aimed at labels, not individuals, and could even enable someone to enter the fashion business with original designs in a Unitedstyles online store with little-to-no overheads.
We’ve heard from sources in the industry that Alibaba is indeed ready to roll out its online payment platform internationally – in fact, it’ll come as soon as within two or three weeks, and it’ll almost certainly be called Alipay Express. It looks set to be hugely disruptive – especially to Paypal – as it brings the world’s largest such service to a global user-ship for the first time.
According to the same source that’s familiar with the matter, one major, recognisable brand of bank is onboard with Alipay Express already, and will be the one to launch it later this month.
Things MUST be looking real good when capital is flowing into a country. And in China, Dow Jones says that a whopping $1.3 billion was invested in 89 venture-backed companies in Q3 2011. That is a 84 percent increase in investment and a 19 percent incr…
The Chinese online downloads and entertainment portal YY.com is looking to IPO in the US next year, and thereby raise between 100 to 200 million dollars. According to local media reports, Credit Suisse has been appointed to arrange it.
In the past, YY has attracted investment from Morningside Ventures, Disney’s Steamboat Ventures, and GGV. It has raised at least US$33 million since its founding in 2005.
YY claims 120 million registered users, and as such is a huge digital entertainment portal. Its primary products include YY mobile and desktop IM, a small-scale e-commerce site that uses its own virtual currency, YY Music, online social gaming, and an education portal.
Etao is the product search engine that was created by Alibaba Group, China’s biggest e-commerce company. But its origins are cause for reticence among some e-commerce sites. On Tuesday, we reported that 360buy has blocked Etao from crawling and indexing its site. And now the High Street retailer turned e-commerce newcomer Suning has followed suit. Suning’s online store now also blocks Etao’s spiders from cataloging the site.
In contrast, both Amazon China and Gome, which is a High Street electronics rival to Suning, are backing Etao.com. Earlier today, at an event for Amazon’s rebranding in China, the regional president, Wang Han-hua, reaffirmed his belief in the usefulness of Alibaba’s product, and said he will not join in with blocking Etao’s web spiders.
While group-buying has slowed down in China, upcoming new start-up Qianpin is focusing on making e-commerce a localized experience. No group-buy or auction here, but instead Qianpin makes an effort to get merchandisers on board, offer discounted items (which can be purchased by oneself) and localization.
In an interview with Sohu IT, Qianpin says that group-buy growth in China has dropped in recent months, and Chinese consumers are getting less impulsive and more rational when buying stuff online. Qianpin also explains that group-buying can no longer meet consumers’ demand and believes that offering a localized e-commerce experience will benefit users more.
Qianpin’s idea is to build a “location-based Taobao” concept in each city in China.